Inspired by the thinking of former VISA CEO Dee Hock and his Chaordic Alliance, here are the three I said get at the core of the issue:
1. Why do we exist and what are the results we are trying to achieve for this project or our organization? In other words, what is our work (purpose, mission, vision, success indicators)?
2. What do we want to ensure/aspire to (core values or principles) as we go about doing that work?
3. How might we organize ourselves to honor what we have identified in #1 and #2?
The questions need to be answered in this order and with great thoughtfulness.
Without a clear understanding of the business we are in or the future we are trying to create, we cannot accomplish anything. Once that is clear, the values and principles (think organizational culture) we want to guide how we do our work become an important consideration. We are then able to address the organizational structure questions about how to best approach the work in alignment with our desired values.
Organizations and project teams too frequently begin with question #3. This often leads to defensiveness and protectionist mindsets about "the way we've always done it around here." When you have great clarity about the first two questions, a broader sense of how you might organized yourself generally becomes possible.
A fourth bonus question I would offer is:
Have we created sufficient opportunities to leverage the talent available to us and provided enough opportunities for people to act on what they care most about?
While this question might seem most suited to nonprofit organizations and their relationship with members and volunteers, for-profit entities should consider it as well. The Gallup organization has well documented the significant lack of engagement many employees feel in their work environment and the costs associated with that disengagement.